The Duality of Self

Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself. (I am large. I contain multitudes.)

Walt Whitman

I am a yoga teacher, a devoted student as well. I am an ancient, quiet, thoughtful, loving soul. I am full of fire and passion and purpose. I am compassionate. I am capable. I am powerful. I am brilliant. This is me at my best. This is me embracing my full potential. My soul, untarnished and gleaming out from within. This is me present and pulsating with the joy of existence. However…

There is another side of me. A self steeped in shame and secrecy. The parts of me that are fearful, hateful, apathetic, envious, greedy, grotesque. This self-hating side of me that holds me prisoner. That ties up my spirit in doubt, in bitterness, in hopelessness. That whispers hateful ideas directly into my head. The part of me that says: This is the real you. The rest is just pathetic pretending. And I believe it.

This is a war wagged within me each and every day. As I lie down on my mat to meditate, I am boundless. I am free. I am happy. But when I stand up that feeling falls away. I leave that version of myself on the mat. I can never take it with me fully. As I go about my self-destructive, mindless daily rituals, it is painful to even remember that other part of myself. It feels like a dream. Or a fanciful character I sometimes play. I feel like an imposter, a fraud. I feel ashamed.

I don’t know why I identify so much more with the negative side of myself. Technically both expressions are me. I just don’t feel worthy enough to claim my higher aspects. Yet I desperately want to believe in the truth of those moments. The time I spend on my yoga mat, in the studio teaching every Saturday, that is not an act. The lovely qualities I am capable of are just as much a part of me as the disturbing ones. No one is perfectly splendid or perfectly awful. I should not feel ashamed of my dual nature. It is only natural.

I want to learn to embrace the side of myself that I admire and allow it to bleed out into my life off the mat more and more. Yet learn to accept that the darker aspects of myself will always be a part of me as well. I want to create harmony between the two and love myself for everything that I am, the good and the bad. I am hopeful that in this coming year I can start to find that healthy blend.

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